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Newsletter 74: October 2021

Welcome to the latest wine reviews and news.

The tasting panel has reviewed a number of excellent wine this month. The latest Victory Point range was a particular standout for both quality and value.

And the latest premium reds from Houghton are absolute crackers. The C.W. Ferguson in particular is a star.

If you get the chance to try some of the recommended wines, I would love to know what you think.



Recent Articles

Geoff Merrill 2021 Review

20th October 2021

Geoff Merrill Wines are synonymous with McLaren Vale.

The first thing that struck me when reviewing the Geoff Merrill wines was the extra bottle age on the reds. It is great to see quality wines on the market with 6-7 years under their belt.

Juniper Estate Rebranding & Victory Point Chardonnay

5th October 2021

Juniper Estate have commenced a rebranding of their range to allow for better segmentation in the market. The range includes:

  • Crossing is where the entry level wines are found
  • Canvas is for their non-traditional (for Margaret River) varieties
  • Three Fields focuses on traditional Margaret River varietals and will have the greatest commercial availability
  • Higher Planes highlights fruit from the Karridale vineyard
  • Estate showcases the Wilyabrup vineyard
  • Cornerstone is the super-premium range featuring both Wilyabrup and Karridale

Richard Hamilton Rebranded

Barry Weinman: 2nd October 2021

To coincide with their 50th year in McLaren Vale Richard Hamilton has rebranded their range with striking new packaging. The first wines in the new packaging have been released under the estate range, with the other tiers to follow.

I reviewed the Shiraz and Cabernet, and both represent excellent drinking for the price, especially given the mature vineyards from which the fruit is sourced.

Leeuwin Estate Update: September 2021

 27th September 2021

A trip to Margaret River would hardly be complete without having lunch at Leeuwin Estate. The combination of great wines and superb food is irresistible.

Whilst there, I took the opportunity to try (and retry in some cases) some of the recent release wines and compare these to a few back vintages.

New Release Reds

23rd September 2021

There were several highlights in this tasting including:

The 2017 Hutton Vale Grenache/Mataro is a bit of a treat. Great fruit quality that has been massaged in the winery. Fragrant, ripe and supple. The wine spent 24 months in oak, of which 20% is new.

Houghton 2019 Vintage Premium Reds

23rd September 2021

Superficially at least, there has been significant changes at Houghton in recent years. None more so than the sale of the original winery in the Swan Valley. But in reality, this was just a superficial measure, as the heart of Houghton had moved years ago to their winemaking facilities in Nannup.

Evoi: Pre-Release Tasting – Sept 2021

10th September 2021

I first became acquainted with Evoi wines 18 months ago at the behest of Brendan Jansen MW. He raved about the quality and value on offer. At the end of my visit, I was in full agreement…

What to Buy

Geoff MerrillJacko’s – Shiraz – 2015. Attractive menthol/peppermint over ripe cherry aromas. This continues on the palate, with the souring acidity complementing the fruit well. Excellent length, the juicy plum-like fruit builds. Tannins get a bit grippy on the finish, suggesting that further time in bottle would be worthwhile. 27 months in large oak, 10 % new. 91pts – $30 (21 Oct).

Geoff Merrill – G & W – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014. Lovely bright red berry fruit supported by savoury notes from the oak (10% new). A more generous style than we typically see in Margaret River. with fine tannins adding texture. Really well made, with decent length and acidity. Drink now – 8yrs. Juicy. 93pts – $30. (21 Oct).

Juniper Estate – Three Fields – Shiraz – 2019. Brilliant colour here. Starts off with savoury, earthy notes but there is a core of delicious ripe plum-like fruit at the heart of this wine. Excellent depth and really well made, with little in the way of new oak to get in the way of the expressive fruit. Fine graphite-like tannins add texture. Delicious drinking now with a bit of air or give it five years to flesh out. 92+pts – $28. (5 Oct).

Juniper Estate – Three Fields – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020. Refined, elegant and polished, with precise ripe fruit that is very attractive. Excellent length of flavours and fine tannin/oak balance, with the sweet fruit really building in the mouth. Youthful and capable of aging but this is a delight to drink now. Fruit from the Wilyabrup and Metricup vineyards. 14 months in oak (30% new). 94pts – $35. (5 Oct).

Victory Point – Chardonnay – 2018. Bright lemony hue. The nose is rich, creamy expensive smelling, with supple vanillin notes. The palate is precise and taut, with a near seamless palate transition. Very long, the fruit is shy initially, but peach-like fruit really builds on the finish. Slate and minerals add to what is a great drink. Combination of Mendoza and Burgundian clones; 277,96,95 & 76. Barrel fermentation and 10 months in oak – 42% new. 95pts – $55 (5 Oct).

Leeuwin Estate Art Series – Riesling – 2020. The purity of fruit is outstanding, with lovely lime juice aromas. The near-seamless palate structure is very impressive. Delicate and ethereal, history suggests that this will comfortably age for 10+ years. Riesling is the largest planting on estate, which is a testament to the popularity of this wine. 93-94pts $23. (Sept 27).

Leeuwin EstatePrelude – Chardonnay – 2020. This is such an impressive wine. The peach and nectarine fruit has intrinsic depth and power. The textural components are a highlight as is the length of flavour. 40% new oak, no malolactic fermentation. 94pts – $38. (Sept 27).

Leeuwin Estate Art Series – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017. Fresh, vibrant and pretty red berry fruit, but with subtle depth that sets this apart from the ordinary. So long, fine, and elegant, with a silky texture. Very serious yet amazingly, drinking brilliantly now. 50% new oak and includes 2% Malbec. 95pts – $79. (Sept 27).

Howard ParkAbercrombie – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. This is a bit of Jekyll and Hyde wine. The fruit is fragrant, elegant and refined on the nose, but the power really shows on the palate. Dense, intense, and impactful, this has great depth to the fruit and impressive length. Drink now with the best steak you can afford or keep for 20 years and be rewarded. Superb! 96pts – $150. (Sept 23).

Victory Point – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. This is a most impressive. Long, fine and supple, with real density to the velvety fruit. Textured, and with near seamless palate transition, this is both age-worthy and hard to resist now. 94+pts- $55. (Sept 23).

Victory PointMallee Root – Cabernet/Malbec/Petit Verdot – 2018. Ripe blueberry fruit with hints of violets. Fine, supple and elegant, with subtle fruit and silky winemaking. A complete wine that makes me want to drink rather than taste. A bargain too. 93-94pts – $28.50. (Sept 23).

HoughtonJack Mann – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. Gorgeous ripe redcurrant fruit that has hints of violets and blueberry. This smells expensive. The palate is silky, supple and moreish. There is great depth and density, but this is all about restrained power. The fruit slowly builds in the glass, and this took three days to really show its best. Very age-worthy. 95+pts – $175. (Sept 23).

HoughtonC.W. Ferguson – Cabernet/Malbec – 2019. What a delightful wine. The pretty blueberry fruit has great depth, supported by supple spice notes (cloves). The fruit on the palate is initially closed and retrained. With plenty of air however, the wonderfully vibrant fruit shines providing great drinkability, even at this early stage of its life. The (expensive) oak has been carefully managed to ensure that the fruit remains the focus. My pick of the range and likely to be excellent value. 96+pts – $78. (Sept 23).

HoughtonGladstones – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. This is a very different style, with much greater fruit weight and density to the wines from Frankland. Not better nor worse, just different. The precise cassis-like fruit is perfectly ripe and quite beautiful., with great length of flavours. The texture is a highlight and the finish near seamless. The cooler year is reflected in supple earthy/herbal notes that complement the fruit very well. A textbook example of very high-quality cooler year Cabernet that is very age-worthy. 96pts – $100. (Sept 23).

EvoiReserve – Chardonnay – 2017. This smells expensive, with curry leaf minerality reminding me of a powerful Corton. The white nectarine fruit is textured, reserved and slightly chewy, with gentle tropical and pineapple notes. Minerality builds on the finish. With density and richness, the power belies the cooler year. 95pts – $69. (Sept 10).

Evoi – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015. Serious fruit that has depth, texture and power. Impressive density of fruit for a wine at this price point and worthy of time in the cellar. A bargain. 93pts – $35. (Sept 10).

EvoiThe Satyr – Cabernet Blend – 2014. Impenetrable density of fruit. There is so much on offer, but this is so tightly wound that you are assailed by the power without the fruit getting a chance to fully express its character right now. A special wine that demands a decade in the cellar to unwind. 95+pts – $69. (Sept 10).

EvoiThe Satyr – Cabernet Blend – 2016. Here, the vibrant fruit and the skilled winemaking collide to make for a great drinking wine. Serious? Yes, but also full of life and personality. Worthy of time in the cellar, but hard to resist now. 95+pts – $69. (Sept 10).